(Note: very brief mention of self-harm urges)
Today has been a rough day for a number of reasons that I don’t want to dwell on right now.
I wanted to hurt myself, but I decided I would look at my pros and cons list (pros and cons of hurting myself vs. using skills and not hurting myself) before I did anything in order to be sure that I was making the right decision. (This story is going somewhere, I promise, and it even has a happy ending!)
I didn’t know where I put my hard copy of my pros and cons list, so I went hunting through the photos on my phone in my “Lists” album, where I keep pictures of a lot of my go-to self care / skills info. Instead of finding it, I came across a picture of strategies I had a while ago for “reorienting yourself,” or grounding yourself.
- zoom out in time
- zoom out in space
- close your eyes and open htem
- take stock of your limbs
- how long until death? Is this an urgent, life-or-death problem?
- what was happening before this?
- look at a to-do list, planner, email, recent texts
I was feeling dissociated, so I tried some of these. I closed my eyes, and when I opened them, I tried to really see everything around me. I counted how many limbs I have. I realized that I am not in imminent danger, and neither is anyone in my family. I reviewed what I did earlier in the day.
And, I zoomed out in space. I imagined myself where I am, in my room, and then I zoomed out… to our house… our town… neighboring towns… our state… this part of the country… North America… the globe… little earth… the moon… our solar system… our galaxy……
It was at this point that I wondered if the Milky Way is part of a cluster of galaxies. Are there other galaxies near by us? Do galaxies even cluster together??
So I followed my train of thought because it was positive and a good distraction, and it made me feel curious and interested (emotions I haven’t felt much recently).
I googled “is the milky way part of a cluster.” It turns out it is! It’s part of the Virgo Supercluster.
Then I remembered that there was some youtube channel I couldn’t remember the name of that had a bunch of good astronomy videos I had liked. I wanted to find the channel, so I got my computer and dug through google drive to find the website that I had made for my high school astronomy class, thinking my website would help me find the youtube channel.
I looked through the website and was reminded of the cool things I learned in astronomy that year. I had pictures of the moon and of Jupiter and its four Galilean moons that we took right outside our high school one evening. I had essays I wrote about the more philosophical parts of astronomy. They were good to read.
I eventually found the part of my website where I linked to the youtube channel I was trying to find. Yay! I went to the channel, SciShow Space, and watched some videos.
One was about how the universe could be shaped like a torus (a donut). I had never really thought about the shape/topology of the universe before. I assumed it was spherical and infinite, I suppose. At the end of the video, the person talking said that if the universe were a torus, that you’d maybe be able to look out into the sky and see our galaxy, the Milky Way, but much younger — the way it was many years ago. You’d be able to wave to yourself.
Mindboggling. The universe is so weird.
A supernova could explode in our direction at any time and obliterate not just us, but our planet, our sun, and our solar system. There are things out there that operate on such different scales than our lives normally revolve around.
I can’t believe I forgot we live in a universe. There is so much more that exists than just me and my family, than everywhere I’ve been in my life, than our entire planet… there is so much more.
So, yeah, wow, that sticky note was actually incredibly helpful. Zooming out in space was just what I needed to do. And looking through the “Lists” album on my phone was the thing that led me to that, so that was helpful, too.
It was also good because it rekindled interests I forgot I had. There were many years growing up where I wanted to be an astrophysicist. I used to think about the universe a lot.
It also made me think more about geometry, math, science. I love geometry so much. I think I’ve briefly mentioned on here that I’m in engineering school. I’ve loved math and science for as long as I can remember. Since I’ve been on winter break, I haven’t gotten to spend much time on those interests. I was actually really craving math homework recently.
Wow. It was really good to be reminded of all that — the things I love to do, the universe we live in, the awe and wonder and imagination.
- This is the video about the universe being shaped like a donut: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrPifMUUOeA
- This is the youtube channel SciShow Space: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrMePiHCWG4Vwqv3t7W9EFg
- This is a video that zooms out in space to show the scale of the universe (“Powers of Ten” — an old video, but classic): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fKBhvDjuy0
- If you want more cool, awe-some astronomy, I recommend the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) website by NASA: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html And there’s a lunar eclipse tomorrow?!?! :O 🙂 😀
Did you forget that we live in a universe??
Have you ever been reminded out of the blue of (good) things you had forgotten?